TAKEErik Martsolf(Brady) discusses raising twin sons, Chase and Mason
Soap Opera Digest: Her twins Chase and Mason just turned 13 on April 7. Is being a dad to teens different from being a dad to teens?
Erik Martsolf:It's a tough time, period. You're too cool for school. You have to ask them for hugs now, and public hugs are no longer [acceptable]. You can not do that. And we are a very loving family. We always have each other's hands. That's how my wife [Lisa] and I have always treated each other, and we try to teach our boys that touch is good. It's important to look someone in the eye and hold them because it's so hard to compete with technology these days. I have many stupid human tricks. I can tell some pretty good jokes. I'm pretty crazy and insane about it. I sing songs from my head. But it's really hard to keep up with the entertainment value of these screens. This has made parenthood very difficult in 2019.
Digest: How do you combat it like?
Martsolf: We have an app called Circle that literally turns off the wifi on their respective devices at a specific time. When the WiFi goes down, you can hear the frustration from the bedroom. You can't believe they've only been active for two hours. Of course they're going to yell, "Dad, I just came in." And I say, "No, it's been two hours." Then they realize how much time has passed. The good thing is that as soon as you take them outside and they start walking around, their mood changes. They become much more alive and much easier to talk to.
Digest: Is it safe to assume they wanted some kind of technology for their birthday?
Martsolf: We got them iPhones. They have nicer phones than their parents. We held out for a while. My circle of friends didn't think we could last until they were 13. Most kids get them at age 7, 8, 9... It's crazy. That's all they wanted and that's all they got. We said, 'have fun with it, but there will be serious limitations.' Then came the debate: 'What do you mean by 'difficult'?' Because when your kids do well in school, which mine does, and they are very good athletes and work very hard to succeed, you want to reward them with whatever they want. The problem is that what they want is not exactly what is best for their mind, especially at this stage of their life when they are growing up. You don't want to pollute it with too much technology.
Digest: Do you sometimes tell your sons things your parents said to you growing up?
Martsolf: I have tons of these moments. We basically become our parents whether we want to or not. We can certainly break bad habits we've picked up, but basically I think personality is inherited through genes. I have a perfect experiment for this and I live in my house. I have two boys, twins who were born at almost the exact same time but could not be more different as individuals. I firmly believe that you were born to be what you want to be. I have given them the same grain, I have given them the same moral code, and yet they are just two different people. How do you explain that? They just tend to be what they want to be and you have to accept that.
Digest: Can you name something specific that came from your mother or father?
Martsolf: Yes. Finding the funny in situations where there doesn't seem to be anything funny in the scenario. My father always magically used humor to lighten situations. He always stressed to me that it's never as bad as you think, if you keep going you'll come out on the other side and everything will be fine. My mother and father always comforted me. Another thing my father always emphasized to my brother and I is that we would always be stronger together than separately. My boys are on the same water polo team now and they are in constant competition. They will constantly outdo each other. I hear my father's words inside me. I even told them the other night, "You will be better as a team than two strong individuals. You will always be stronger together." I'm trying to get that ring. On the other hand, with the twin dynamic, it's just natural competitiveness.
Digest: You said your sons are different. How?
Martsolf: I have one, Chase, who just started school. He gets really good grades. He is an athlete. He's full throttle. He loves football. He loves every sport. My other boy, Mason, is my artist. He is my little creative man who is in the garage 24/7 building Iron Man suits. He is also extremely sensitive. He is my butterfly catcher. That's what my wife calls him. You have to tell him to do something 12 times. He just wanders the earth and looks at it. He is a free spirit. He's my little Woodstock boy. And Chase is the exact opposite.
Digest: Have Your Sons Started Dating Yet?
Martsolf: Interestingly, not dating, so to speak, as I was told. It's like, "Dad, no, they're not friends. They're just friends who like us, and we've told them we like them." They are just discovering the world of girls.The subject came up.My wife is freaking out.
Digest: Typically, a parent tends to be the disciplinarian. Is that the case in your home?
Martsolf: My wife would argue that she is more of a disciplinarian and I would agree. We always try to support each other, whether we agree or disagree. It's not easy sometimes because my wife is quite stubborn and I'm stubborn myself. We both like to think we're right. It's just our personalities. But you have to put up a solid front with your kids, because if you don't, they will sense it and use it against you.
Digest: Was there a time when you felt like you wanted to be a father? when you thought, "I know what I'm doing now?"
Martsolf: I love this question because I want to say no. Absolutely not. The reason for this is that once you get the hang of it, it changes. They grow as people and the seasons change. There are different time frames and the difficulties are different. They are not worse or easier. They transform into other people and it takes different skills to handle them.
Digest: How do you usually celebrate Father's Day?
Martsolf: I've always said that all I want for every Father's Day is to be able to do what I want and not have to be a parent. That's our deal. On Mother's Day, Lisa doesn't have to have children. If there's a problem on Father's Day, I don't have to deal with it.
Digest: Is there anything you enjoy doing that day when you're not exactly kids?
Martsolf: I usually play a bit of golf and then come home. I prefer to spend Father's Day in the evening with my family. My boys were always so good at making cards or gifts. As I said, Mason is very creative. He makes me jewelry and I don't usually wear a lot of jewelry. He is going to make these interesting iron bracelets for me to wear and he is so proud of them. I'm kind of looking forward to getting these things. I look forward to Chase just looking me in the face and thanking me for being a dad. Like I said before, it's hard to get their attention these days. So the best thing is that one day I will be able to open the card and see Chase looking at me with a smile and realize that what he wrote moves me.
Digest: Let's move on to Brady and the show. What was it like working with Arianne Zucker as Kristen pretending to be Nicole?
Martsolf: It was really fun to watch. I enjoyed Ari's performances in this story of being someone else and playing someone else's behavior. She really did her homework on Stacy Haiduk and her mannerisms, speech patterns and the like. She worked really hard to emulate a lot of it and it was interesting to watch.
Digest: Were you happy to have Ari back with you?
Martsolf: Absolutely. Ari and I have always gotten along incredibly well.
Digest: What do you think about Stacy coming back as a real Kristen?
Martsolf: You know it's always going to explode when Kristen comes to town. Stacy literally took on the role. She is proud to be Kristen DiMera and she takes it very seriously. She is a big breath of fresh air in these times. She smiles all the time and is very happy to be at work.
Digest: Were you worried when you first found out Kristen was being cast on the show? Because it could have gone either way and you had such a good relationship with Eileen Davidson (ex-Kristen).
Martsolf: Oh god yes. I was very protective of that. It was one of my favorite times here at DAYS, working with Eileen. I thought we had something special that really clicked. I enjoyed them so much. Her performances were always so layered and full of whimsy and interest. I didn't think there was anyone else on this planet who could arouse such an interest. Stacy's performance is different, but I'll tell you what. It is equally interesting to look at it in a different way. She is very dynamic and has those steely blue eyes that sometimes give a soapy villain look. But at the same time she is a very beautiful woman and suddenly you don't see the evil anymore. You only see the blue-eyed girl next door who wants to be loved. It's an interesting dichotomy.
Digest: Do you think the key to Brady's success as a character lies in the fact that he's been unlucky in love and suffered as much heartbreak as is up to people?
Martsolf: When I first came to PASSIONS [as Ethan], I just wanted to be the hero who carries the damsel in distress out of the burning building. I wanted to be that guy. But as I've matured and grown in this genre, I've come to realize that it's not all about meat and potatoes. It's because of the flawed characters, the characters who struggle to be heroic and at times falter and fail. Ultimately, this is a much more interesting character to watch. It's one everyone can identify with. Nobody is perfect and Brady is far from it. I think that's why he's still on screen and will continue to be.
By Janet DiLauro
Filed under: days of our lives,Erik Martsolf
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